The first prototype of the upcoming Opel Ampera--Europe's version of the Chevrolet Volt--today received its initial charge of electricity from a newly installed recharging station at Opel’s headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany.

The event is part of the lead-up to next week’s 2010 Geneva Motor Show and will see the Ampera take part in a cross-country journey from Rüsselsheim to Geneva in Switzerland in time for the show.

The prototype vehicle will use the energy stored in its 16kWh lithium-ion battery to drive the first stage of the 370-mile journey.

When the battery’s charge is low--after roughly 40 miles--the Ampera’s on-board internal combustion engine will start to generate electricity to drive the wheels for the remainder of the journey.

The new Ampera is essentially Opel’s version of the Chevrolet Volt and it’s set to go on sale early next year. Its American counterpart, meanwhile, will start deliveries towards the end of this year. For more details on the Ampera, check out our previous report by clicking here.